Friday, July 30, 2010

Breaking Up

What if this really is the end?

Do it in person. Never break up over the phone or via email. I’m not talking about a one date “relationship.” In that case, the phone or email--or even never calling her back--is fine because it’s not a breakup since you were never really together. It’s the coward’s way out, though, not to do it face to face if you did have a relationship. Also you’ll never get your key, muffin pan or favorite t-shirt back unless you do it in person.

Don’t break up in the middle of a fight when emotions are running high. It leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and you’ll feel like a jerk tomorrow.

Don’t start the conversation with “I think we should break up.” It’s jolting even if she’s been thinking the same thing. Start with something like “I’ve been thinking about our relationship,” or “Can we talk about where things are going for us?” This gives her the opportunity to come to the mutual agreement that things would be best if you went your separate ways. No one likes to feel she was dumped. Better that you both walk away feeling it was mutual.

No need to list the character faults that repulsed you, but do leave her with some explanation, especially if the break up comes as a surprise to her. Make some kind of general (but true) statement about why you’re not happy with the relationship. “I’m not interested in getting particularly serious at this point in my life.” Or “Our living habits are so different we wouldn’t be compatible living together.” Do not say “You wouldn’t want to live with me because I’m such a slob” because she can argue with that. And do not say “You are so disgustingly slovenly I can’t imagine living with you.” It may be true but it’s also unnecessarily hurtful.

If you both want to continue to be friends, that’s fine. But make sure that’s what you both really want, and make sure you aren’t staying in each other’s lives as a way of dragging out the relationship or giving the other person false hopes.

Next time: Fighting Wrapup

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